Every ten years, critics and directors send their choices to Sight and Sound's Greatest Films poll, which then tallies up the results and declares some movie to be the greatest of all time. Once again, I was not asked, and as a protest, here is my list. Since 1962, this honor has time and again gone to Citizen Kane. Kane lover I may be, but count me as someone who thinks this to be the decade The Godfather topples it.
1. The Rules of the Game - 1939. dir. Jean Renoir
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One day, when I am gathered together with my foreskin, I will be buried with a DVD of this movie. The greatest work of art, ever made. Humanity portrayed exactly as it is.
2. Tokyo Story - 1953. dir. Yasujiro Ozu
The greatest movie ever made about family, the passing of time, and our inability to truly know the people we should know best.
3. The Decalogue - 1989. dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski
Ten roughly hour-long movies about The Ten Commandments. We're never going to figure out what's moral and what isn't, but these movies got us closer than we were before.
4. Fanny and Alexander - 1982. dir. Ingmar Bergman
If Tokyo Story is the greatest movie about family, then Fanny and Alexander is a close #2. It's the greatest movie about childhood, its terrors, its hopes, its dreams. The Tree of Life didn't even come close.
5. Rear Window - 1954. dir. Alfred Hitchcock
Of all the great Hitchcocks, this is the most fun, and the most relevant. A modern myth from the first era in human history when we don’t know the people who live closest to us.
6. The Godfather - 1972. dir. Francis Ford Coppola
What is The Godfather ultimately about? All I can say is that no movie I’ve ever seen did a better job explaining why there will always be a place for evil in the world.
7. His Girl Friday - 1940. dir. Howard Hawks
Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell play out the mysteries of love more articulately than anyone in film history, and do it at breakneck speed. Here is a couple addicted to each other, that cannot be torn apart no matter how hard they try to tear themselves away.
8. Before Sunrise - 1995. dir. Richard Linklater
Yes, it does belong here. If His Girl Friday is about the mystery of love, then Before Sunrise is about the mystery of romance - and the rare confluence of chemistry, good timing, and future doubts which it takes to create it.
9. The Producers - 1967. dir. Mel Brooks
The Greatest Joke Ever Told. Only the original, accept no substitutes.
10. F for Fake - 1974. dir. Orson Welles
Welles's last movie, better even than his first. By the end, everything you think you know about the world is turned entirely upside down.
The End of All Illusions
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